Malacañang on Monday said the Department of Education (DepEd) may have only been referring to minors in a portion of one of its alleged self-learning modules which discouraged children from joining peaceful assemblies.
In a Palace press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque raised the possibility that the DepEd was only looking out for minors after the Commission on Human Rights expressed concern over the module’s content.
“Ang initial reaction ko (My initial reaction) is we defer to the DepEd. Pero remember, ang DepEd naman po ang supervision niya elementary and high school. So siguro ang sinasabi lang ng DepEd yung mga elementary and high school siguro huwag muna umattend ng rallies (But remember, the supervision of DepEd are elementary and high school. So perhaps the DepEd is only discouraging elementary and high school students from attending rallies),” he said.
He said the module might have never been meant for tertiary level students in colleges and universities.
“Hindi naman po ito para sa matatanda nang mga estudyante, ito po ay para sa mga bata (This was not meant for adult students, it was meant for children),” he added.
Roque, however, said the DepEd is still in the “better position” to address the CHR’s concerns.
He also explained that the Bill of Rights provides for freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances.
“That’s already in the Bill of Rights and of course ang pinag-iingatan lang natin e yung mga wala pang sapat na pag-iisip, yung mga menor de edad at mga bata (we’re only looking after those whose thinking is not yet fully developed, minors and children),” he said.
In a statement on Saturday, CHR Spokesperson Jacqueline Ann de Guia emphasized the importance of developing critical thinking among children especially when it comes to national issues.
“While respect for the law is a good value to teach, it is equally important to develop among our children critical thinking, especially when it comes to issues that affect us, not only personally, but as well as those national in scope,” de Guia said.
She said love for one’s country should not be limited to “mere obedience”, but also through collectively tackling issues of the communities and the country.
In particular, the CHR was referring to an activity in the DepEd Module on Media and Information Literacy for Grade 12 students. One of the guide questions was: “If given the chance, will you join this rally? Why or why not?”
The answer, as written on the module, was: “No, because the government is really doing their best for all the Filipino people and their constituents.”
David Waya, a member of Rise for Education-Cagayan Valley, a regional organization which calls for safe and quality education for all uploaded the copy of the module on his Facebook account. (PNA)